Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Preternatura Books Club: Meet Harry Dresden


First, a business note. The Susannah Sandlin ABSOLUTION tour continues today with a fun post at Midtown Underground, where vampires Will, Aidan and Mirren are talking about their favorite weapons. Head over and comment for, among other prizes, a Kindle Paperwhite or, if you prefer, a $100 gift card to an online bookseller of choice. The contest is international and ends on October 31. A NOTE OF APOLOGY: Absolution for Kindle had some formatting problems that created weird breaks and typographical errors in the text. Amazon has temporarily made it unavailable for purchase (as a Kindle download) as it's reformatted. PLEASE, if you go and find it unavailable, check back later today--it will be back. Also, print and audio copies remain available to purchase. Those who have purchased Absolution with the formatting errors will receive a free replacement. Okay..commercial over.

Welcome back to the Preternatura Book Club! We'll be talking about topics that are related to the book we're reading but are general enough for you to pipe up and voice an opinion.

Each book read will last four weeks, which is a much faster schedule than we've done on previous books. Today, we begin reading STORM FRONT, book one in the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. This is probably my all-time favorite urban fantasy series, and while STORM FRONT is (like most first books in series) not my favorite, it’s a good introduction for people new to the Dresdenverse. This series just gets better and better so if you even kind of like Storm Front, keep going!

Today’s giveaway will be a mystery unclaimed prize of your choice of genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, sci fi, fantasy, or YA.

So, some basics about our man Harry. He’s the only openly practicing wizard in Chicago—he even has a Yellow Pages ad. Business is slow, and if not for his gig “consulting” for the paranormal investigator squad of the Chicago PD, he’d be starving. He’s tall and thin, with dark hair and eyes. Since the story’s first-person from Harry’s point of view, it takes us a while to learn that Harry is considered handsome by the ladies. His signature look is a long duster that billows behind him when he walks. He drives a broken-down VW Beetle not so much because of finances but because its circuitry is old and sturdy enough that Harry’s magical energy doesn’t destroy it like he does with anything computerized or too fragile of circuitry.

Harry’s ongoing money problems are a series constant. Here’s something we’re already learning about Harry. He is very much a good guy, even though it annoys him sometimes. He’ll always stand up for what’s right, even at great cost to himself.

I love the humor in this series. Harry has a kind of understated humor that grows on you as the series progresses. The humor in this series is more subtle than, say, the Hollows series, although my first laugh-out-loud moment in an urban fantasy came in the third book of the Dresden series, in a scene at a suburban Walmart, and I think that’s when I really fell in love with the UF genre. Jim Butcher can’t resist an occasional sight-gag and when they happen it’s hilarious.

Harry’s ongoing relationship with Karin Murphy, his CPD contact, is a great one throughout the series. We get a scant introduction to it in these early chapters, and just in case you think it’s going there, Harry and Murph do not have a romantic relationship even though there’s an attraction between them. Yet we keep hoping.

These early chapters also hint at Harry’s ongoing, troubled relationship with the wizards’ White Council—the ruling council of the magical world. We don’t yet know the whole story, but he’s very much aware that making a misstep with the council could cost him his life. And he’s not exaggerating. We’re also getting a slight taste of the way the vampire world is organized, although that’s something that will take a while to play out. Butcher’s vampires are not warm and fuzzy, by the way.

So….early thoughts about Storm Front or the Dresden universe? Do you like Harry yet? (You will!) Things you do or don’t like about these early chapters?

31 comments:

  1. I have to say, the way you've described the series makes it seem awesome. I guess I thought the story was more of a cop/crime series. I think it's the name, it makes me think of Dragnet. I may give this a shot sometime.

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    1. Oh, I so love this series, Andrea! There are crimes to solve, but it isn't at all crime-centric like, say, the Anita Blake series. Harry's ongoing storyline with the White Council and his relationship issues and just all-around wackiness. His consultant, who we'll meet next week, is a demon trapped in a human skull...so we have a talking skull named Bob who's a letch. Harry has to bribe him with erotic romance novels in order to get his help.

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  2. I also love this series. Bob is one of my all-time favorite characters in any series. I'd love to see Jenks meet Bob, that would be some crossover. I think Harry is the standard for wise-cracking characters; other authors have tried to write the same type of character, most fall short.
    I also really enjoy Butcher's other series, but that is for another day.
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    1. OMG. I REALLY REALLY want to see Bob and Jenks. I would pay to see Bob and Jenks. I think Kim Harrison and Jim Butcher need to collaborate on a story. It would be absolutely wicked.

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  3. i'l afraid to say.. i haven' tread anything by this author yet ^^;;

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    1. You'll have to try it sometime, Miki! It's my all-time favorite urban fantasy series.

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  4. I soooo need to read this serie!! It is on my wishlist since like forever!!!!

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    Glassheart18ca@hotmail.com

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  5. I really like the earlier books in this series. I haven't enjoyed the last couple of books as much though.

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    1. Well, with the book before last, Jim Butcher took a HUGE HUGE HUGE risk with a certain thing he had happen, without putting spoilers in here. I think it was a risky move, and I'm waiting to see how it plays out in the long run. I think there are about four more books before he plans to end the series at 19 (at least I think that's what I remember reading somewhere).

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  6. First time reader. Just read the first six chapters of Storm Front. The Dresden Files books have been on my TBR pile a long time. Will be fun to see how this goes with the Book Club read. So far I like Harry, haven't met Bob yet. Like that Harry's "Wizard" messes with the electronics.

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    1. Yes, Butcher gets a lot of mileage out of Harry and the electronics issue. Even with the Blue Beetle, his car, which we haven't seen much of yet. I haven't read Storm Front in a long time, so it's fun for me to re-read!

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  7. This is one of my favourite UF series - partly because Jim manages to introduce us to the world here but builds upon it without repeating himself in future installments. Harry grows and evolves. Here he is still young (but perhaps a little jaded) and wants to keep the magical world apart form Murphy and the PD in order to protect them as much as possible. It's so strange to see a young Harry - it's like looking at old photos of who he used to be. I still have a little crush on Harry... :-)

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    1. You're right, Mel--hadn't thought about it that way. Harry grows tremendously as this series progresses, so it is kind of like looking at his old yearbook picture :-)

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  8. I've read the entire series and absolutely enjoyed it. Reading the synopsis here, I would just caution all to not throw out too many tidbits. They may not be big spoilers, in the scheme of things, but they are nice little discoveries along the way that are probably best enjoyed in context and not known beforehand.

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    1. Good point, Beth. I'm going to have to watch that, because I tend to want to start gushing about this series!

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  9. I have them - the first four books, anyway - on my TBR pile. I'll try to get to Storm Front soon - it'd be nice to read it with others, I think.

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    1. Try to read it this month while we're talking about it. It really is a terrific series.

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  10. This is the series that started my love affair with urban fantasy and it's still my all time favorite! It'll be fun to revisit these early books as I'm waiting impatiently for Cold Days to come out. :)

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    1. Same story here, Lesley--this series absolutely made me a fan of UF and also made me want to write UF. And I just preordered COLD DAYS!

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  11. Harry sounds like a good, moral character. I like humor in books.

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    1. Harry is a moral character, in a world where it would be so, so much easier for him not to be. He doesn't really see himself in any heroic sense, though, which makes him likeable as well. And lots of humor!

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  12. Hi! I'm new to this site and to this series...in fact, I just downloaded it! It definitely sounds like a good one from the comments I've read on here. Thanks for introducing me to it and to the author. Is there somewhere I can find out more on how the book club works? Thanks!

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    1. Hi, and welcome! We're really informal. Every Wednesday, I just throw up some observations about the book we're reading and people comment. I give away a random book from my ridiculous hoard (winner's choice of genre). We're spending a month per book right now, and the list of upcoming reads is on the righthand column of the blog. Glad you're going to dig into the Dresden universe. It's a great series!

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    2. Great...Thanks Suzanne! Can't wait to start reading it. I will check out the other books on the list too.

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  13. I like Harry already, and the Yellow Pages Ad? That I really really like, lol! Thanks for letting me know that this has got to be on my TBR list.

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    1. Yes the humor in this series is great. Just subtle little zingers like the phone book ad :-)

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  14. i haven't read this one yet, but my friend said it's good. hope i can join the book club this month.

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    1. Hope you can join in...or at least stop by each week and read the discussions!

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  15. I've just started, so I am a little behind :( I kind of like Harry up until now. Can't say he's my favourite character of all times, but I like to see how the series develops. And the writing is REALLY good

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    1. Yes, the writing is terrific. And Harry will grow on you, I promise!

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